Twenty-six games, 17 defeats and just one victory. It would be fair to say West Bromwich Albion’s record against Stoke City isn’t the best.

The Baggies have managed just one win against the Potters – a 1-0 verdict at The Hawthorns in 2003.

Since beating Stoke 6-0 in December 1988, the Potters have not only gained revenge but continually struck savage blows in the head-to-head battles between the two clubs.

This weekend’s visitors have scored 43 goals during that same period, with Albion netting just 18.

Roberto Di Matteo is not too concerned by such statistics.

But one thing can be relied on – this Saturday’s fixture will not become the Tony versus Tony fixture that became such a focus when the two clubs met two seasons ago – when Tony Mowbray’s open, attractive football took on the more direct, robust Tony Pulis side.

Mowbray was never able to come to terms with Stoke’s play. And it showed. Yet Di Matteo has respect for his counterpart and their style.

But Albion will be ready for the physical confrontation.

“We always do some training related to the way the opposition play,” said the head coach.

“It will be the same for this Saturday against Stoke.

“They are just very difficult to play against.

“I’ve been thinking about that and how we can combat that.

“It’s a possibility getting big players in will affect my thinking.

“The difficulty is that we’ve got six players away and they’ll basically only be training with us on Friday morning, so there is a difficulty there.

“I’ve spoken to Tony Pulis on the phone a few times but I don’t know him.

“But what Stoke have done is something I respect.

“If I look at Stoke as a club, they are a club we would like to emulate.

“As for our history, you are always hopeful you can end a statistic or run at some point.”